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Gabriel Espinosa: From Yucatan To Rio

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Espinosa is from Yucatan and has been drawn artistically to Brazil. The results are generally an update of the Sergio Mendes pre hip hop sound with relatively static (as opposed to interactive) rhythm arrangements, and female vocals on five of the ten tracks. Bassist Espinosa has added trumpeter Claudio Roditi and alto saxophonist George Robert and guitarist Romero Lubambo (on five tracks) and clarinetist Anat Cohen (on one) to the pot. Espinosa wrote seven of the tunes and singer Allison Wedding two of the others.

The vast majority of the CD is designed to be radio friendly and is professionally and tastefully written and arranged in this direction. The programming of the tracks seems to reflect this. The first tune is the one non original that might be familiar to the audience; “Jobim’s Aqua de Beber.” None of the tracks can have the adjective “blowing” applied to them, but the balance between arrangements and solos starts to lean more toward solos as the CD goes on, and by the end we are hearing a bit more jazz content than at the beginning. This will have the effect of either turning off the jazz hard core at the beginning of the CD, or pulling in those seeking smoothness and exposing them later to something a bit more in the players’ tradition than they might be used to. Best of luck to Espinosa in achieving the latter.

Originally Published